Plus: World’s oldest logo gets an update; Universal goes ‘nuclear’ on TikTok.

One of the foundational concerns about generative AI is that it will exclude and misinterpret historically marginalized groups due to the data on which it’s trained. In an apparent attempt to avoid this pitfall, Google’s Gemini AI program appears to have gone too far in the other direction.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the AI tool formerly known as Bard is now facing intense backlash, especially from right-wing commentators, for its answers and imagery related to race.

The situation began when the tool began showcasing inappropriate  historical images: think an array of races in Nazi uniforms in response to a prompt to show a German soldier in 1943. It also refused, in some instances, to return images of white people when asked, while it generated images of people of other races without complaint. This prompted Google to pause the tool’s ability to create imagery while it solves the problem.



But WSJ reported that over the weekend, the specific complaints morphed into a broader critique, spearheaded in part by Elon Musk, about the model’s overall “wokeness.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a staff email that teams were working nonstop to solve the problems.

“No AI is perfect, especially at this emerging stage of the industry’s development, but we know the bar is high for us and we will keep at it for however long it takes,” Pichai wrote in the memo obtained by WSJ. “And we’ll review what happened and make sure we fix it at scale.”

Why it matters: Pichai is right: No model is perfect. Mistakes will happen. Remember when Microsoft’s early chatbot tried to break up a New York Times columnist’s marriage? Technology is weird, stuff happens. And it does appear that these mistakes were made with the noble intention to represent all Gemini’s users in the images and answers it returned.

But a growing pain has become an emblem of “woke,” out-of-control tech. And it’s a stumble that Google, already trailing partnered rivals Microsoft and OpenAI, couldn’t really afford.

If Google can rally, explain what went wrong and how they’re fixing it, they can still bounce back and become a popular, well-used AI model moving forward. But make no mistake: There will be more of these hiccups in every AI model’s development, including ones you may be building in your organization or using for your work. Be vigilant, be prepared and build that crisis plan now.

Editor’s Top Picks:

  • A 140-year-old logo is ending its incredible streak as the world’s oldest with a brand refresh. Lyle’s Golden Syrup, a common baking ingredient in the U.K., has updated its logo on many of its products, moving away from the old image of a dead lion surrounded by bees (a Biblical allusion) to a stylized lion’s head, the BBC reported. “Our fresh, contemporary design brings Lyle’s into the modern day, appealing to the everyday British household while still feeling nostalgic and authentically Lyle’s,” Brand Director James Whiteley told the BBC. In a smart move, the imagery on its most iconic product, a tin of syrup, will remain in its classic form to preserve history. Naturally, some long-time fans aren’t in favor of the move, but brands need to compete on crowded grocery store shelves, and a lion swarmed by insects may not be the most marketable image in 2024, even with a long lineage.
  • Universal Music Group has deployed what’s been dubbed “the nuclear option” against TikTok. The two companies are at war over music royalties on songs used in videos on the uber-popular app. Now, in addition to preventing songs performed by artists signed to Universal from being used on TikTok, songs created by songwriters signed to the label must also be removed, the Wall Street Journal reported. Even if a song has 10 writers and a single one is signed to Universal, the entire tune must be removed. This ongoing battle is causing schisms in the artist community, with some supporting the move to be paid for their work with others frustrated by their inability to use the app to market their music. And of course, users of the app are caught in the middle. We’ll see just how long this drags on.
  • Female entrepreneurs are opening new businesses in industries traditionally dominated by men, Axios reports. This includes HVAC, plumbing, electricians and handy(wo)man services. Axios pegs the movement as part of an overall “she-economy” where women are coming into the cultural and economic spotlight. It’s a great reminder for B2B businesses targeting these industries that times are changing – the old boys’ club may be ending, and marketing and messages must be inclusive.

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The post The Scoop: Google fights to recover after Gemini AI fumbles on race appeared first on PR Daily.